Fears over blue badge centre

Minerva Centre
Minerva Centre
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Disabled drivers in Preston fear they have been abandoned after the closure of the city’s only blue badge station.

Motorists have been forced to travel to either South Ribble or Chorley to renew their parking permits since an automated system broke down at the Minerva Centre in Deepdale nine months ago.

Now there are real concerns the five-year-old health facility at the football stadium in Lowthorpe Road will not be replacing the “Telly Talk” system which allows blue badge holders to update their passes in person, rather than online.

And city councillor Tom Davies has called for answers after insisting the service, run by the county council, is “essential” for a city of Preston’s size.

Coun Davies said: “The Minerva Centre is the only place in the whole of the city where they can go to renew these badges. And quite a few people have expressed their concern that it is no longer offering the service. I’m told it broke down some time ago and the rumour we hear is that it isn’t going to be repaired or replaced at all.”

Blue badges allow drivers or passengers with severe mobility problems to park in restricted areas.

While most applicants do so online, there are still many who chose to apply in person at one of 12 venues around Lancashire with the “Telly Talk” system.

When the Evening Post called the Minerva Centre we were told the system broke down last October and, because building work was now going on, it was not known if there would be sufficient room to operate “Telly Talk” once it was completed.

Coun Davies said: “People shouldn’t have to travel out of town to renew. I’d like to know why that is the case.”

Sarah Jenkins, customer access manager, said: “There have been a few technical problems due to the age of the equipment which have mainly been resolved. We are now working with staff to find a suitable place to locate it following their recent refurbishment. In the meantime, people who want to renew their blue badges can use an alternative venue for Telly Talk or apply online.”